Dan James has had a difficult 12 months, after the initial success he enjoyed at Manchester United in August and September 2019.
James scored three goals during this stretch, and has only one since.
By the end of 2019 he had a very credible tally of six assists. In 2020 he does not have any.
James’ stock has dipped then, and in his last two starts against Palace and then Brighton in the cup, he was the first player substituted after disappointing performances.
That won’t lift his confidence, but late transfer interest in the window might.
It was widely reported that Leeds renewed interest in the Welshman, with United rejecting the approach.
The Sun also reported Leeds’ interest, with manager Marcelo Bielsa keen on another attempt to sign the player he came within hours of signing in January 2019 before his move from Swansea collapsed.
For United, this is a sign James is a player worth sticking with.
Bielsa is one of the world’s most respected coaches, with more than 30 years experience managing across the world.
His persistent interest in James was a sign United should not give up on him.
Now perhaps United could have taken the view that James could benefit from a loan, and learning under Bielsa, but in practical terms that was never viable.
United need wingers, and James is one we do have available, and agreements between the Old Trafford side and Leeds are rare.
Bielsa’s interest in him was a sign United should not quit on him, in the same way the club did with Wilfried Zaha and Memphis Depay.
Now it’s on United’s coaching staff
Now United have taken the decision to stick by James, it is up to the club’s coaches to coax the best out of him.
This may be a case of utilising him better as an impact substitute.
It is also worth noting that with big games coming up, James could have more of an impact than against sides who set up deep and restrict space.
James was effective as a starter in the home win against City back in March, while at home against Liverpool his run and cross set up Marcus Rashford’s goal.
James needs to improve his decision making, shooting, and his final pass, and it may not be an instant transformation in fortunes.
If something can go right for him, supporters may begin to believe in him again.
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